ABSA Premiership (PSL) Week 4 Preview

Written by The Caretaker Coach for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!  

If international friendlies and a smattering of qualifiers isn’t your cup of tea, it will have been a long two weeks. Thankfully, that all comes to an end this week and the PSL has been so polite as to give us a Friday night game first up, just for those who couldn’t possibly wait. On the local front, we witnessed a bittersweet Bafana Bafana victory, which saw them fall short of qualification into the knockout rounds for a spot in Brazil 2014. The hangover of disappointment was evident in a faltered performance on Tuesday, albeit with a weakened side and stacks of starters sitting out. The funny thing is that all the goals came from PSL players that night, something to take note of. The confidence that came with the win over Botswana is about the only thing we can take from this break. With the league the only focus now for lovers of South African football, bar the Bhakaniya fans, it’s appropriate we get straight down to it.

Bidvest Wits vs Ajax Cape Town
First up, two teams I have personal issues with, for justified reasons I believe. I was vocal about The Clever Boys a few weeks back, and despite their decent start, I’m still unconvinced. In all fairness, they did win last time out as home favourites, and that’s something any side wanting to compete has to do. They upset my prediction of a draw though, so hopefully this is a sign of good things to come for Wits. Like I said, a home game against one of the worst looking Ajax Cape Town sides the league has ever seen is probably the best thing they could’ve asked for. I really can’t say much more than that. I sacrilegiously picked them to lose at home to AmaZulu, and sadly I hardly doubted it wouldn’t happen. In my opinion, Muhsin Ertugral is the rotten core of their problems. A crazed loon running a loyally supported club. Of the two clubs, Wits looks the likelier to come out trumps, and it’ll be a good chance to build momentum for them. At 9/10, it’s nothing spectacular to lump your hard earned bucks on, but a great leg to include in multiples.

Free State Stars vs Platinum Stars
Free State Stars impressed me with their finishing last time out, but unfortunately threw away a two goal lead against province rival, Bloem Celtic. They took the chances they had; not doing so is, more often than not, the downfall of mid-table sides. This time they face a sterner test, fortunately at home, but nonetheless daunting. Platinum Stars, a side fuelled by the Bafokeng monarchy, have a squad well balanced with youthful flair and control that comes with experience. They were convincing last time, despite conceding at the death, and it seems to take them no time to get into the game. Robert Ng’ambi is a real gem to watch, and with two goals in three starts, he’s one to keep an eye on. The bookies are undecided on this and looking purely at head-to-head contests will make you think the same way. The points have been split equally between them in the sixteen times they’ve met, but one has to look at Dikwena’s form of late. They walked over FFS in the MTN8 recently, and wins home and away last season means Platinum Stars have to be the ones to back. At 15/10, it’s a great value bet.

University of Pretoria vs Bloemfontein Celtic
Both teams drew last time out, with AmaTuks’ one-pointer being the better result of the two. They kept out Maritzburg United for the full 90 minutes, without really impressing enough in front of goal to deserve anything more than draw. I’ve mentioned the praise for the Pretoria students before, but they’ve yet to register a win in the league so far, so the pressure is on. Their discipline is also an issue for me, so hopefully no dirty challenges hamper their chances of getting off the mark this weekend. On the other side of the coin, Celtic have been up and down, and will look to build some consistency. The home draw to Stars was disappointing and their only win came away at Polokwane City, nothing to write home about really. It makes this a cagey affair, and whilst Celtic are slight favourite at 16/10, Tuks aren’t far behind at 18/10 with the draw at 19/10. So at least I’m not the only one rolling the dice on this one. They’ve only played each other thrice, and just because Tuks are yet to lose to Celtic, that’s the way I’ll go. Dodgy journalism to say the least, sorry folks.

AmaZulu vs Moroka Swallows
South Africa’s love affair with what Gordon Igesund has done to the national side in recent times started with him bringing Swallows close to taking the PSL title two seasons back and it was that revival that has seen them reclaim their rightful place as one of the Soweto originals. It’s this that makes my opinion of them as subjective as any writer could hope to avoid. Edward Manqele’s hat-trick against Aces was nothing short of spectacular, and despite them being a bit leaky that night, it was the first time they’ve conceded more than one goal since February. They’re unbeaten and look slick. AmaZulu are also right up there early on, notching up another great win away to Ajax. They only conceded late and took advantage of sloppy defending with both goals they scored in the 2-1 win. This test will be well tougher, and Usuthu will want to come away with something here, but unfortunately I can’t see it happening this time round. The bookies see it differently, with both sides at 35/20, but Swallows really need to be considered to grab an away win here. AmaZulu will have to score more than once against this tough defensive setup, and I can’t see that happening. Grab the generous odds and run before someone notices.

Kaizer Chiefs vs Maritzburg United
Normally seen as strong favourites, Chiefs are naturally the go-to choice when playing at home. However, of late they don’t seem to be gelling, leaving red-indian tribe leaders all over the country in despair. Seeing their stars shining on the international stage is one thing, but Stuart Baxter will be pulling his hair out if his lads can’t pull out the stops this time round. They’ve yet to assert themselves despite hitting the back of the net in each of their league games, and their opposition will look to perpetuate that. Maritzburg United have done surprisingly well against Chiefs, and you have to go back to January 2011 to find the last time they’ve lost to the giants. It makes Saturday’s game more than routine for Chiefs, and will have punters licking their lips. The only thing I see being an issue preventing an upset for Maritzburg is their difficulty in scoring goals so far this season. They’re going to have to fix this if they’re going to come away with anything here, and it might take a cameo appearance from Delron Buckley to inspire them. At 45/10, an away win looks like the punt you always wish you took in hindsight, but a draw is the more realistic option here. Even then, it’s going to need a turnaround in form from the KZN travellers, making the draw at 25/10 more of a stab in the dark than anything else. But it’s where I’m going. If you’re feeling daring there are some crazy halftime-fulltime
doubles on offer here.

Mpumalanga Black Aces vs Supersport United
Supersport are sitting top of the pops, having collected maximum points so far and couldn’t be happier with how things have started. Stylish winners against Chiefs, albeit being at home, is something the Matsatsantsa faithful will be happy to see. They were crippled last season with a mammoth 17 draws, but with nine goals in three games so far, that looks to be a distant memory. Gavin Hunt’s departure seems to have breathed new life into the club and with potent talent like Mame Niang, they must be early favourite to take the title this season. They’re hosted by Black Aces on Sunday in a fixture I can’t see troubling them. It may not be another steamroll from the Pretoria side, but Aces will struggle. They had little chance against Swallows two weeks back, and I feel it’s going to be a case of being beaten whilst you’re down for Amazayoni. Unfortunately the bookies tend to agree, and an away win at 15/20 is far from a healthy return. But let’s call a spade a spade here, and include in any and all bets.

Polokwane City vs Golden Arrows
Without jumping the gun on this, we may be looking at two teams who could be fighting to avoid relegation come the end of the season. It seems an ongoing issue for the PSL, but the league has always lacked depth, and teams like Polokwane City seem to make their way into the premier division simply to make up the numbers. Having said that, it’s still early days, but it seems they’re missing the comfort of the National First Division. Luckily, Arrows won’t be the sternest of tests, and by the end of the weekend let’s hope there’s still enough gusto left in football fans to watch this fixture. It doesn’t promise much, but often that’s where the goal fests come from. If Naas Botha’s seemingly obvious statements were ever relevant it would be here. The team that scores the most is going win. A revelation, I know. But the differentiator here is exactly that. Arrows have only scored once so far, at home to Ajax, a team I’ve dissed enough for one preview. The City Slickers, as I’ve dubbed the newbies, look the more proactive in front of goal. Polokwane City to pick up their first top flight win, and at 35/20, it may be a great way to end the weekend.

The man knows his football, but even he gets it wrong from time to time. Feel free to share your PSL tips and multiples below.

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